LinkedIn Corp. agreed to acquire online- education business Inc. in a deal valued at $1.5 billion, continuing the professional-networking service’s expansion beyond its roots.

The transaction will be 52 percent in cash and the rest in stock, LinkedIn said Thursday in a statement. The deal is expected to close this quarter, the companies said., based in Carpinteria, California, offers more than 5,700 courses and 255,000 video tutorials for professional development. The company sells to individuals and large corporate customers.

Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s chief executive officer, has been expanding the company beyond its roots as a portal for recruiters and job seekers. To attract users more often, the Mountain View, California-based company has bolstered content publishing, including contributions from such people as Google Inc. Chairman Eric Schmidt, personal-finance commentator Suze Orman and Arianna Huffington, the founder of the Huffington Post.’s courses “make it possible for anybody to easily and effectively acquire a skill needed to get their first job, get a promotion, land a business deal or advance their career,” Weiner said in a blog post Thursday.

James Cakmak, an analyst at Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co., said the deal should boost LinkedIn’s revenue by 3 percent to 5 percent this year.

“ offers LinkedIn a trusted entry into the education space,” said Cakmak, who has a buy rating on the networking site’s stock. “It’s really about making sure their professional community has the tools to achieve what they want. That’s the near-term. I think the longer-term is greater penetration into educational institutions.”

LinkedIn’s shares rose 1.5 percent to close at $256.14 in New York, putting the stock up 12 percent this year.

Sales increased across all three of LinkedIn’s business segments in the fourth quarter. Revenue from its core service, which helps recruiters and companies find job candidates, gained 41 percent to $369 million. Sales in Marketing Solutions, offering tools for advertisers, rose 56 percent to $153 million. Revenue for the premium-subscription segment rose 38 percent to $121 million. was founded in 1995 by Lynda Weinman, a Web graphics and design veteran, and her husband, illustrator- designer Bruce Heavin.

The company raised $186 million in January in a funding round led by TPG Capital. Investors including Spectrum Equity, Accel Partners and Meritech Capital Partners also participated in the funding.

“’s business model meshes well with LinkedIn’s broad strategy and focus on job training, hiring, development and job skills,” analysts at RBC Capital Markets wrote in a note to clients.


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